Paid YouTube channels in a free YouTube world presents an interesting decision for social media marketers.
An Example of Success on YouTube
Some best practices won’t change between paid and traditional YouTube videos. When social media marketers search for a benchmark against which to compare or after which to model a YouTube campaign, the easiest example is Blendtec, known principally for its Will It Blend? series.
The free channel has over 600,000 subscribers and a total of 223 million channel views and is a bona fide benchmark of online virality. Unlike major brand triumphs like Old Spice’s The Man Your Man Could Smell Like series, which owed much of its online success to major penetration on national TV, Will It Blend was as close to a pure online organic opt-in experience as you’ll find.
The Will It Blend series owes its success to each of these factors, presented in no particular order:
Why Paid YouTube Channels?
The short answer is YouTube sees the same market opportunity as Hulu, Netflix et al. As the Internet and devices grow increasingly integrated and capable of delivering higher-quality content, power in the marketing relationship shifts to the consumer. The delivery and business models for cable and satellite are dying. Content is being presented in this way because consumer behavior has demonstrated a desire for it to be so and because the market requires a model that appeals to the interests of providers.
What Happens Next?
Taking the end user in mind—as marketers must always do—the question is what will be the difference in the consumer experience?
Sesame Street videos are widely available online, including on PBS Kids, Sesamestreet.org, YouTube, Netflix and Hulu. But especially on YouTube, it’s often just one click from a cute Elmo video to one of someone setting an Elmo doll on fire. Giving parents an option to access full-length-episodes, and keeping kids glued to the official Sesame Workshop channel, may get quite a few of them to pay a few bucks a month.
Monthly subscription rates range from $0.99 to $4.99. Profit or breakeven on the tactic will only be achieved through volume. Considering the cost of producing new professional videos at the rate of something even a fraction of Will it Blend, for most businesses, the initial goal of the paid channel must be to provide another outlet to generate interest and engagement in other profit centers.
Will it Blend videos use intra-video pay-per-click promotions that allow users to click through to a purchase-ready landing page on Blendtec’s website. Could this tactic backfire on a paid channel? Perhaps, as we don’t expect commercials on HBO or Showtime, but TNA’s showcasing of its old Pay-Per-View events at $4.99 per month should increase orders of individual Pay-Per-View events on cable or satellite ranging from $9.99 to $44.99 each. We can expect TNA to offer its YouTube audience a coupon code for discounts on the paid event. If a $4.99 discount is offered on a $44.99 event, the paid YouTube channel subscription is essentially free for the month and TNA has exchanged eleven percent of profit margin per redemption for understanding the effectiveness of the paid YouTube marketing channel.
How to use this Information
Success in paid YouTube channels will result from diligent planning and honest evaluation of what it takes to gain attention share and what to do upon acquiring it. Paid YouTube channels increase the investment for social media marketers, commensurately increasing the expected return.
To successfully leverage paid YouTube channels, social media marketers must employ best practices and plot an integrated strategy for the channel. Success will come to those who make decisions based on good data, define their unique brand experience, know their audiences and actively appeal to them.
Most social media marketers will continue to employ online videos without adding the dimension of the paid YouTube channel.
Which route will you take?
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